EXCLUSIVE: After a spirited bidding battle, Universal has just closed a deal for Don’t Mess With Texas, a comedy spec by John Quaintance & David Feeney that will make for an onscreen pairing of Reese Witherspoon and Modern Family‘s Sophia Vergara. Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea will produce through their Pacific Standard banner along with Dana Fox. Vergara will be co-producer. Fox is the scripter of such features as What Happens In Vegas, and also the exec producer of the Ben And Kate, the just-canceled Fox series where Quaintance & Feeney were writers. Don’t Mess With Texas is on a fast track, with plans to begin production March, 2014.

Pic is a female driven comedy about a cop and a prisoner on the run in Texas, with crooked cops in hot pursuit. Witherspoon is coming off the Jeff Nichols-directed Mud, and she will star alongside Keanu Reeves in Passengers, the sci-fi film that was bought by The Weinstein Company at Cannes. She will next be seen starring in the Atom Egoyan-directed drama Devil’s Knot about the West Memphis 3 case, and she’ll next star for Paul Thomas Anderson in Inherent Vice. She’s repped by CAA and Management 360. Besides the hit ABC series Modern Family, Vergara most recently starred in The Three Stooges, with Machete Kills upcoming. She’s repped by CAA, Latin World Entertainment and Untitled. Fox is repped by WME, Quaintance by CAA and Art/Work, and Feeney by UTA.